Customers rush to purchase toilet paper at a Target store Thursday.
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(Updated: 4:45 p.m. EST, March 20, 2020)
Topline: The shelves may be empty at some grocery stores nationwide right now, but the shortage won’t last forever as toilet paper and other household goods make their way through the supply chain.
- Unlike many products Americans use that are shipped in from overseas markets, paper products sold in the U.S. are produced mainly at stateside factories.
- A spokesperson from Proctor & Gamble, the Cincinnati-based parent company behind Charmin toilet paper, Bounty paper towels and Puffs facial tissue, told Forbes those products are being produced in U.S. plants at record-high levels.
- As for diapers, one of the world’s largest paper and packaging manufacturers International Paper makes diaper materials and pulp used by tissue and paper makers— those pipelines for raw materials are “running wide open,” CEO Mark Sutton told CNBC on Friday.
- As for the empty supermarket shelves seen over the past few weeks, “it’s a little bit of dislocated demand that should settle out over time,” said Sutton, who sits on the board of U.S. supermarket chain Kroger. “Hopefully when people realize they have a lot of diapers they’ll slow down their purchases.”
- In fact, the empty shelves could even lead to a surplus of paper products— once supplies hit stores, “nobody is going to buy it, because who needs to buy toilet paper when you got a year’s worth sitting in your garage,” Supply Chain Management for Dummies author Daniel Stanton told CNBC.
Crucial quote: “I know it’s frustrating for consumers when you go to the shelves and don’t see [toilet paper], but the manufacturing assets are running, and you’re going to see it improve,” Dino Bianco, the CEO of Kruger Products told BNN Bloomberg.
Bianco says that he’s never seen a higher demand for products than now in his entire 30-year career— but that there’s no absolute shortage of toilet paper.
Key background: Across the industry, companies saw jumps in sales of toilet paper and other household paper products as buyers prepped for coronavirus quarantines. Angel Soft and Quilted Northern maker Georgia Pacific said orders nearly doubled from some retail customers. They reportedly shipped out 20% more than normal capacity last week.
Tangent: With new paper product stock on its way, there’s no need to turn to a life of crime. On Wednesday, North Carolina police came across a stolen tractor trailer filled with 18,000 pounds of toilet paper, paper towels and other commercial products. If you’re still concerned about how long your current stash will last, there’s a handy online toilet paper calculator. Just input how many rolls you have and your average number of bathroom visits in a day and the calculator will spit out how many days you can expect before your next trip to get more.